06. 05. 2020. A tile of art

Yufei Xu

《一片艺瓦,万物一片》

一片瓦,比手掌稍大一点,一直随着我。在我用钴青、朱砂、赭石还是雄黄、祖母绿描线让它成为艺术之前,是一片空白。它看起来算是最棒的儿童艺术吧。因为我为它选择的是中国水彩的经典着色,为它勾勒的线条至简如伦布朗的作品草稿。

我带着它走过城市源头到大洋洲的逡巡路线,回到谋职的故土。诸多物件在生活的倥偬里得而复失,有失之海运,有失之滥用。倏忽惊现,小瓦片穿越器物的新陈代谢,从我众多个人物品中脱颖而出,登上艺术的台面。

我怎样做到,造就它呢?

学校叮嘱城市青年“要学农,要下乡”。于是城里的初中学生都“学农”,成了规定好的教育制度。对我而言,14岁那年的“学农”教会我制作乡村艺术品。学农指导员先是讲解了瓦片画的工艺流程,接着让我们制作自己的版本。我们这帮楞头小子,哪里知道什么绘画?对我而言很轻松:我照搬照抄画室笔筒上的传统青花纹样,在瓦片上稍作变形,画了十九朵祥云,它们占据着三分之二的面积。接着把纹样再简化成折笔,二十多划层层叠叠,为的是象征一块山峰巨石,巨石中延伸出松树的枝桠。黄或褐色给巨石,赤色给祥云,青色给树干,绿色给松针。其余留白,乃瓦片本色。烧制瓷器的炉子给瓦片上一层釉,让着色长久,我的工艺品就诞生了。

后来,我按这个法子,匠造自己的博士论文。原来,复制一些再改造一些,运用想象力,加入个人风格,就足够写一篇博士论文。

彼时的我,赋予这小小瓦片以心流、以结构;后来的我,一切都被它们造就。

而且,万物美观。

I have carried a tile with me, a little bigger than the size of my palm. It had been blank before I lined some cobalt, vermillion, ocher or realgar, and emerald to make it a work of art. It seems to me one of the best from kids’ arts. For the hues I happened to choose for it are as classic as those favored by masters of Chinese watercolors, and the lines are as simple and neat as some of landscape drafts from Rembrandt.

I have carried it with me from my urban origin to New Zealand where I spent one and a half year, and finally took it back to the inland Elysium, Chengdu, where I choose to work. So many other objects come and go in my life hustle. They usually are lost in hectic shippings or broken by use and abuse. No small surprise when I was cued by the fact that my little piece of tile art had survived the metabolism of my belongings, of objects.

How did I make it?

Schools bid the urban young “go mingle with peasants, go experience rural area”. So they make secondary school students in the city go through this education session, that is to get educated by the rural, of around two weeks. I went through the session when I was 14, and it taught me to make rural art. At first the instructor had laid out the procedure of making tile art, we, a bunch of rats who had no idea of drawing anything, were commanded to craft our own version of the artistic design. Easy work: I just copied the pattern on the china pen baskets in the studio. The ancient pattern was transformed into nineteen heads of auspicious clouds floating and taking up two thirds of the tile square. Then I curtailed the pattern into a dozen skewed strikes and stacked them to symbolize a boulder, where a branching pine grows out of it. Yellow or brown for boulder, red for clouds, blue for pine trunk, green for pine needles. The rest was as milk white as the tile itself. Out of the furnace that gave the tile lasting sheen from glaze was this art of mine.

This was how I crafted my Ph.D thesis later. It turned out copying and transforming, with a bit of imagination and brush style. 

Everything has been growing out of the flow and structure I gave for this little tile.

And it looks gorgeous.

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